New Queen’s Royal College (QRC) head coach Nigel “Grovy” Grosvenor enjoyed a triumphant home debut this afternoon as the Royalians downed a sullen Trinity College Moka 3-1 in St Clair.
“I’m feeling good for my first win,” Grosvenor told Wired868 in a post-match interview. “Ironically we played better in Tobago when we lost than when we played here. I’m happy for the win but the actual football itself, I wasn’t too pleased about.
“We have to do better than that.”
Pre-match, though, the famous QRC Scout Band was on hand to whip up the QRC faithful and, as the teams lined up, the decades-old chants began to boom out off the top of the West Block and waft down on to the field below.
“QRC, we want a goal! QRC, we want a goal!”
The desired response was not long in coming. Stand-out Royalian midfield maestro and former National Under-17 Team midfielder John-Paul Rochford beat the stranded Trinity keeper Nathanael Thomas at his near post to open the scoring.
Diminutive QRC forward Darius Dickson used his quick feet to create space on the right before playing a clever pass into the feet of the advancing Rochford. With what looked a chasm between him and the nearest Trinity defender, the midfielder had time to pick his spot and delicately place the ball beyond Thomas.
The time on the game clock was just two minutes.
While the Trinity custodian and his coach would certainly feel he should have done better, the assembled mass of QRC humanity preferred to give Rochford all the credit.
“Men playing FIFA, boy,” a delighted QRC student announced to his group. “Man finishing on 100.”
Grovy’s charges were definitely not about playing games in this one. Coming off a 2-0 away loss to newly promoted Speyside, they were on the front foot from the first whistle, their attacks seemingly choreographed to the driving rhythm of the Scout Band’s beating drums.
Twice in quick succession, they rattled the frame of Trinity’s goal. First, Rochford tried to double the lead and his goal tally when he caught Thomas sleeping at the near post yet again with a free-kick that hit the base of the frame.
Then captain Anfernee Stokes, advancing into the opposing penalty box for a corner, got into the act with a looping header that clattered against the top of the crossbar.
The crossbar’s charity was evenly distributed, it seemed. Midway through the first half, Trinity captain Saleem Henry whipped in a delightful free-kick from the left. The ball arrowed its way onto the head of the unmarked Abdul Raheem Leezam who thumped a header off the underside of the crossbar and safely back into play.
QRC goalkeeper Jusamo McNeil, making his home debut, breathed a sigh of relief. The former St Anthony’s College student, along with Marc Robinson, made the move from Westmoorings to St Clair this season and coach Grosvenor revealed that McNeil was not expecting to be thrust into the rough and tumble of SSFL action so soon.
“We brought in the goalkeeper (McNeil),” Grosvenor explained, “because my first two goalkeepers, one sprained his toe and one broke his toe; he is out for the year.”
“This little goalkeeper Mc Neil wanted to come QRC all the time so I spoke to the principal and they allowed him to come in in Form Four. He is only 15.”
McNeil, who did much better at home than he did on his debut versus Speyside, was largely a spectator in the first half as the boys from Moka contrived to shoot themselves in the foot rather than at the QRC goal.
But QRC repeatedly fired warning shots at the Trinity citadel as their defenders dawdled on the ball in the back. In the 32nd minute, for instance, Dickson stole the ball and advanced down the left channel before forcing Thomas into a low finger-tip save.
But that warning went unheeded and the last defender slipped up again moments later and allowed Rochford to pick his pocket. Once in possession, the midfielder calmly stroked the ball into the bottom corner yet again.
Double delight for the QRC maestro. And the Scout Band played on.
Just before halftime, Rochford picked out Stokes at the far corner with an accurate corner kick and the cool-headed skipper added gloss to the score line with a typically composed header. Stokes looked all afternoon to be the type of player who would be unruffled when confronted with a rampaging bull.
His goal put his side 3-0 up at the half and the game seemed done and dusted. There was a huge ruckus about quarter of an hour into the second half when the patrolling security caught a couple of visiting spectators carrying knives in the West Block.
By the time that was over, the suspects removed from from the premises and the flood of curious supporters had receded, attention shifted back to the football.
And, as Trinity, in the person mainly of Saleem Henry, sought to will themselves to a recovery, the Scout Band played on.
Skipper Henry is a two-time Trinidad and Tobago Super League Team of the Week wide forward who started the season for FC Santa Rosa in blistering form. He is clearly a cut above the rest of his team mates and one wonders if the role in the deep central midfield role that he occupies for his school team gives his the room he needs to use his ample talents.
But today at least, he got little or no help from his teammates, who were just not on the same wavelength. Of course, to be fair, the uninspiring Trinity display was in no small part attributable to the manner in which Rochford controlled the middle of the pitch and managed the QRC set pieces.
He found Stokes with a carbon copy corner delivery that the central defender could only direct onto the ever-present crossbar this time while Darlon Guppy will be still kicking himself at not being able to properly redirect another excellent Rochford corner onto the target and increase the score.
Based on Rochford’s deliveries today, his name must now be in the conversation along with that of former National Under-17 teammate and St Anthony’s College playmaker Che Benny when the discussion turns to the subject of who is the SSFL Premier Division’s dead ball supremo.
With the game meandering to a close, Royalian substitute Marquis Lewis failed to capitalise on one or two good chances to widen the gap. The missed opportunity seemed to provide Trinity with some incentive to put the hosts under some pressure.
Grosvenor began chastising his players for continuously conceding fouls at the top of their own penalty box, doubtless fearing that Trinity would finally make them pay. They did—in added-on time.
Jawahir Raheim did the honours with a left-footed free kick that swerved and dipped; the goal proved to be merely a consolation item on the day.
And, as the Scout Band finally stopped playing, Grovy left his new home with a broad smile.
SSFL 2017 results
(Wednesday 13 September)
QRC 3 (John-Paul Rochford 2, 39, Anfernee Stokes 42), Trinity College Moka 1 (Jawahir Raheim 90+1) at QRC grounds;
San Juan North 3 (Kyle Thomas 2, Brandon Semper 13, 65), St Mary’s College 3 (Devon Charles 3, Gabriel Nanton 48, Devon Charles 63) at San Juan;
Naparima College 2 (Ronaldo McIntosh 7, Judah St Louis 71), Trinity College East 0 at Lewis Street;
Fyzabad Secondary 1 (Jeremy Duntin), Fatima College 0 at Fyzabad;
St Benedict’s College 0, Presentation College 2 (Omri Baird 49, 53) at Barrackpore;
Speyside High 0, Shiva Boys HC 5 (Judah Garcia 16, Kierron Mason 24, Quinn Rodney 39, Junior Asson 91, Tyrell Baptiste 94) at Speyside;
Signal Hill 0, St Augustine Secondary 1 (Akeem Hosten 88) at Signal Hill;
St Anthony’s College 1 (Krishon Alexander 77), Carapichaima East 3 (Theophilus Bourne 24, Kevon Williams 43, 57) at St Anthony’s.
(Saturday 16 September)
St Augustine Secondary v St Benedict’s College, 3.40pm, St Augustine;
Trinity College East v Carapichaima East, 3.40pm, Trincity;
Presentation College v St Mary’s College, 3.40pm, Guaracara Park;
Shiva Boys HC v Fyzabad Secondary, 3.40pm, Penal;
Trinity College Moka v Speyside High, 3.40pm, Moka;
Fatima College v Naparima College, 3.40pm, Fatima;
Signal Hill v St Anthony’s College, 3.40pm, Signal Hill;
QRC v San Juan North, 3.40pm, QRC.